Thursday, June 25, 2009

Playing School

Today is the last day of school for my oldest daughter and I've been trying to think of creative ways to continue the learning for her and my soon to be kindergartner. In the past, for my oldest daughter, doing her summer math book or reading list has been as fun as taking out the trash. Today I tried to make it fun using my two younger girls for practice. I brought up the seldom used chalk board from the basement and said we were going to play school this morning. I went through the workbooks we have collected over the years and was able to drum up assignments for both my three and five year old children. Of course I had to change some of the assignments around for my three year old since she wasn't able to draw a triangle, so instead I drew it and she was assigned to color it in. I interrupted the learning with coloring pages and of course the highly anticipated snack.

I can't believe I never thought before to call it "playing school". I remember as a kid spending hours with my sisters teaching or sitting quietly at my desk, or was it causing trouble that I would never really get to do at real school? It was my sales technique that kept everyone interested, it's school, not doing work- and it's yet another way that I can "play with my kids" without having to play dolls or Polly Pockets. Playing with my kids, I'm going to get better at it, it's just taking some time to remember that I can lead the activity in the direction I want to play. I can only take so many games of Trouble before I fall apart.

P.S. That is self applied blue eyeshadow on her face, I haven't started beating my children.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Endless Battle Against Junk Food in Schools

I have often been mocked and ridiculed over my lack of junk food offering to my children. Never do I bake without tossing in wheat germ or whole wheat flour, and trust me, I seldom bake. We don't keep chips, candy or other junk around the house. When my children are offered sugar drinks and unaltered juice, they drink as if they just trekked across the Mojave dunes.

Once in kindergarten I started to let go of the reins. I looked the other way when my daughter's fabulous teacher would pour cheese puffs and cookies onto their snack napkins. I pretended not to judge the quality of food our monthly fees were going to in support of the horrible nutrition that was most often served before lunch, leaving my daughter's lunch intact when she arrived home. I discussed with friends what our options should be. Should we just let it go and know we are doing the best job teaching healthy choices at home or should we demand that our children eat the healthy snack we packed from home? Should we offer to do the monthly snack shopping for our teacher, and volunteer our time to chop apples and celery sticks? Should we take action for the whole school to change how the all of the children are eating?

I chose the first option while my friends experimented with the other two. In the end, I think we all learned to let go a little the longer they were in school. With that said, I'm all the more shocked to read this article in the NY times about a mom that just can't seem to lose a bit of control over the food that goes into her kids mouths. If there are twenty children in a class, isn't it fine to have your kids eat 20 cupcakes a year? Will a sugary Popsicle really change their outlook on life and no longer eat the 100% juice watered down Popsicles offered at home? Certainly not the case around here, my kids are still happy to chew on 100% water ice cubes, given the chance.